What we learned
Vanderbilt, Missouri and Tennessee — a combined 0-9 last season against Georgia, Florida and South Carolina — went 3-0 against those teams Saturday.
And everything you thought you knew about the SEC East pecking order is now officially defunct.
Missouri, picked to finish sixth in the division in the annual preseason media survey back in July, occupies first place and holds a 2-game lead in the loss column over the teams that were predicted to finish first through third: the Bulldogs, Gamecocks and Gators, respectively.
Missouri controls tiebreakers against Georgia and Florida, having beaten them back-to-back the past two weeks, and will try to complete a sweep of the supposed East elite when South Carolina visits Columbia, Mo., on Saturday.
“I thought we were going to have a good football team,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel told reporters after the 36-17 victory over Florida. “I don’t know why nobody else thought we were going to have a good football team.”
The disbelievers are diminishing. While it’s fair to note that Georgia and Florida were injury-decimated opponents, it also should be noted that Missouri played the fourth quarter of the Georgia game and all of the Florida game without starting quarterback James Franklin (separated shoulder). Backup Maty Mauk picked up where Franklin left off.
The SEC West isn’t in quite the disarray of the East because it has the stability and familiarity of two-time defending national champion Alabama still atop the division standings. But beyond the Crimson Tide, the West got a shakeup over the weekend, too.
Auburn, which was 0-8 in SEC games last season, upset Texas A&M 45-41 despite Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel passing for 454 yards and producing five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing). And injury-depleted Ole Miss, which was 2-6 in the league last season, upset LSU 27-24 on a field goal with two seconds to play.
Those two outcomes leave Auburn alone in second place in the SEC West, one game behind unbeaten Alabama. Auburn was picked to finish fifth in the division.
A week ago, the SEC was celebrating having eight teams in the Associated Press Top 25, the most ever from one conference in a regular-season poll. On Saturday, five of those teams lost, all in SEC games and three to unranked opponents.
As a result, the SEC is down to six teams in the AP’s Top 25 this week.
Georgia and Florida, which were ranked Nos. 15 and 22, respectively, last week, fell out of the rankings after losing for the third time each. Georgia, out of the poll for the first time in two years, took the week’s biggest tumble in the aftermath of a 31-27 loss at Vanderbilt.
Among SEC teams still in the AP poll: Alabama remained No. 1 after routing Arkansas. Missouri, unranked just three weeks ago, vaulted to No. 5 from last week’s No. 14 after dismantling Florida. Auburn soared to No. 11 from No. 24 after beating Texas A&M, which fell to No. 14 from No. 7. LSU dropped to No. 13 from No. 6 after losing to unranked Ole Miss. And South Carolina fell to No. 20 from No. 11 after losing to unranked Tennessee.
CBS’ telecasts of SEC games averaged a 4.6 national rating and 7.3 million viewers through Oct. 12, the highest numbers since the network started airing primarily an SEC-only schedule of college football games in 2001. The rating is up 48 percent from a 3.1 at the same point last season, and the viewership average is up 49 percent from 4.9 million.
By the numbers
Years since Missouri defeated No. 19 SMU and No. 2 Nebraska in consecutive weeks in 1973 — the last time the Tigers had beaten ranked opponents in back-to-back weeks before defeating Georgia and Florida the past two Saturdays
Arkansas’ combined margin of defeat in its past two games, losing 52-7 to South Carolina and then 52-0 to Alabama
Yards rushing by Auburn in its victory over Texas A&M, including 178 on 27 carries by tailback Tre Mason and 100 on 20 carries by quarterback Nick Marshall — the Tigers’ third game this season of 300-plus yards rushing
Interceptions thrown by LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger in the first half against Ole Miss, two of them in the Rebels’ end zone
Combined SEC record this season of Tennessee and Vanderbilt before their wins Saturday over South Carolina and Georgia, respectively
“We needed that badly, desperately. It’s been a long time. That’s something that is jump-starting and pushing us in the right direction.”
— Tennessee senior running back Rajion Neal on the Vols’ upset of South Carolina
“Maybe we had too much press. We thought we were too good, maybe.”
— South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on losing to Tennessee one week after routing Arkansas
“Our team is going back to the top. We are just now getting our edge back.”
— Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall after the Tigers’ win at Texas A&M
“I was a little emotional after the game. … Those were tears of happiness. This was a statement game. The statement that we want to put across is that we are coming.”
— Auburn running back Tre Mason
“We are just not really a good football team, certainly not today. That’s all on my shoulders.”
— Florida coach Will Muschamp after the loss to Missouri
ESPN’s Chris Fowler (@cbfowler)
Must be the (almost) full moon: Bizarro Upside Down Saturday in the #SEC! LSU, A&M, UGA, FLA, S. CAR all fall. Wow.
Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples)
Will the last healthy, unejected player in the SEC East please turn out the lights?
CBSSports.com’s Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS)
The targeting ejection on #UGA DL Ray Drew THAT WAS CONFIRMED just now might’ve been the worst call I’ve seen this year.
CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs)
Great (Gary) Danielson line: “the next qb Georgia kicks out, I’m recruiting.”
Thumbs up: To Missouri, which piled up 500 yards of offense — the most by any opponent against Florida in five years — behind redshirt freshman backup quarterback Maty Mauk, who threw for 295 yards in his first start in place of the injured James Franklin.
Thumbs down: To Georgia’s inexplicably poor special-teams play, which allowed a Vanderbilt touchdown on a fake field goal, fumbled a punt to set up another Vandy touchdown and snapped the ball over the punter’s head to facilitate yet another Vandy TD
EAST / Conference / Overall
Missouri / 3-0 / 7-0
Florida / 3-2 / 4-3
Georgia / 3-2 / 4-3
South Carolina / 3-2 / 5 - 2
Tennessee / 1-2 / 4-3
Vanderbilt / 1-3 / 4-3
Kentucky / 0-3 / 1-5
WEST / Conference / Overall
Alabama / 4-0 / 7-0
Auburn / 3-1 / 6-1
LSU / 3-2 / 6 - 2
Texas A&M / 2-2 / 5-2
Ole Miss / 2-3 / 4-3
Arkansas / 0-4 / 3-5
Mississippi St. / 0-2 / 3-3
- Kentucky at Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
- Vanderbilt at Texas A&M, 12:21 p.m., SEC TV
- Tennessee at Alabama, 3:30 p.m., CBS
- South Carolina at Missouri, 7 p.m., ESPN2
- Furman at LSU, 7 p.m., PPV
- Florida Atlantic at Auburn, 7:30 p.m., FSN
- Idaho at Ole Miss, 7:30 p.m., CSS
— Compiled by Tim Tucker